Gary Middleton references Prince Philip visit to Derry with Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1953 during tributes

DUP MLA Gary Middleton referenced the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to Derry with Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1953 while paying tribute to him in the Stormont Assembly.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 12:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 12:24 pm

"On behalf of my constituents in Londonderry and the wider Foyle constituency, I pass on my deepest sympathies and condolences to Her Majesty The Queen on the sad passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh," he said.

The late aristocrat who died on Friday visited Guildhall Square with his wife the current British monarch shortly after her coronation in 1953.

"It has been 68 years since Her Majesty and His Royal Highness stood in Guildhall Square in Londonderry as part of a visit following the coronation.

Prince Philip stands by with Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Guildhall Square in 1953.

"Over the weekend, I heard from many constituents about their fond and cherished memories of that visit and of being there with their parents and grandparents. Over the many decades that have followed since that visit, the duke served with immense dedication and a tireless commitment to public service, and that is evident to us all not just in the United Kingdom but across the Commonwealth and worldwide," he said.

Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born in Corfu a hundred years ago this June into the German-Danish House of Glücksburg which presently reigns in Norway and Denmark and formerly ruled over Greece and Iceland until monarchies were abolished and republics were established in the latter nations.

His mother Alice of the Battenberg family was the elder sister of Louis Mountbatten who was blown up by the IRA off Mullaghmore in 1979.

During tributes in the Assembly SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin referred to Prince Philip's work with young people over many years through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

The scene in Derry in July 1953 when Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Prince Philip visited.

"His engagement with young people right across our communities provides an example to our society that should be recognised, especially at this dangerous moment. Despite losing his uncle to an IRA bomb, he continued to visit here on many occasions in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation.

"That culminated in the successful state visit by the Queen, accompanied by her husband, in 2011. That is the sprit of reconciliation that all in the Assembly and in society can recognise as being of enormous value as we continue to emerge from the dark shadow of our past. It is a past that it seems that we have yet to escape from.

"People not only from the unionist tradition but across much of our society are in mourning for Prince Philip's death. Across this island, in the South as well as the North, people have paused to consider the life of Prince Philip in its historical context and how much has changed in our society during his lifetime and, indeed, ours. Prince Philip has had a full and controversial life but not always a happy one.

"We remember him as a fellow human being, a man who was greatly loved and whom we mourn together. We are all mortal. We have a shared experience of life and death. As the poet John Donne said: 'send not to know, for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.'

Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland disembarking at Lisahally with Prince Philip and other notables in 1953.

"Despite our differences, today, we offer our respect and thoughts together. We are one society whatever our differences. We can come together in sadness, dignity and also hope — the hope that we have embodied in the Good Friday Agreement and that we need to reflect on at this dangerous time. The Queen and Prince Philip helped to solidify the peace achieved in the Good Friday Agreement."

Mr. Middleton equally acknowledged his work with young people and charities.

"His Royal Highness took part in over 22,000 solo engagements. When he retired in 2017, he was said to have been a patron, president or member of almost 800 organisations. He had visited 143 countries in an official capacity.

"That is a significant lifetime of service. One of his many lasting legacies is the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. I, like many others, have benefited from that award, and I have been inspired listening to the many stories from across the UK and the world about young people whose lives were transformed by the award. I trust that it will be very much a positive, lasting legacy of His Royal Highness.

"In the 99 years of his life, Prince Philip saw many world-changing events. He saw leaders come and go, but his service went on. The impact of his service and legacy will live on for many years to come. Of course, when it is all stripped back, Prince Philip was a devoted father, grandfather, husband and great-grandfather. Her Majesty The Queen, when speaking about her husband, stated: 'He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years'.

"Her Majesty The Queen is very much in my thoughts and prayers as she continues to reign over us in the times ahead. We have lost a tremendous public servant who served his queen and country for decades. We send our heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty and the royal family."